PoliticalNews.me - Jul 01,2012 - Senate Acts On Final Transportation Funding Law
Package Includes Freeze of Student Loan Rates; Reauthorization of Flood Insurance House expected to pass, sending it to President’s desk
Washington – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and member of the conference committee which negotiated the final package, announced bi-partisan action on comprehensive transportation legislation that will create and protect nearly three million jobs and make critical investments in the nation’s transit and road systems including over $500 million a year for New Jersey’s public transit system and nearly $1 billion for the state’s roads.
“With bi-partisan action, we will protect and create nearly three million jobs across the nation, and at the same time, invest in our infrastructure and improve public transportation for New Jersey families and commuters,” said Menendez. “It has been a long and tough road but I am incredibly pleased by the outcome: More transit formula funding for New Jersey than ever before, which means more jobs and a more reliable and safer transportation system. It will also help New Jersey’s employers continue to attract world class talent from around the region.
The bill also protects student loan rates from doubling at the end of the month. Menendez said: “It came down to the wire, but I’m so pleased we were able to overcome Republican opposition and find a way to prevent student loan rates from doubling for millions of Americans, including 140,000 students in New Jersey.”
The approved package also reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance program for five years. Menendez said he was pleased this will provide stability and certainty for the housing market and the thousands of New Jersey homeowners who rely on flood insurance, but added: “I remain concerned about the affordability of premiums and I look forward to FEMA releasing its study I fought to get included, which will look at ways to make insurance more affordable for struggling families.”
Menendez expressed disappointment that the final bill did not include a several measures that had been part of the original Senate-passed legislation, including: Restoring the full transit tax commuter benefit; Operating flexibility for use of federal funds to keep transit workers employed in hard economic times; sustainable water infrastructure investment; Increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund; and Increased funding for pedestrian and bicycle access.
“While I am pleased about so much of the investments we are able to make as a result of this bi-partisan bill, I am very disappointed that we were not able to provide transit agencies more flexibility to use federal funds to retain workers in hard economic times,” said Menendez. “I also have concerns about a number of changes to the Senate bill that would have protected the environment, but at the end of the day I support this bill because of the jobs it will create and the expanded transportation investments it will provide New Jersey.”
Menendez added that he will continue to fight for his Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act